Winners v Losers 2017

Silver and bronze are for second and third. They are pats on the back (almost-but-never-mind).

The fat shiny gold goes to the best, the fastest, the winner. Awards for films, acting and the rest, are trickier. More like guesswork. Instead of being able to trust what we see on the track, tennis court, or TT course, we have to trust informed guessing. Glitzy awards guessed by unseen experts: the Great and Good of the film industry. They pick out the winners and nominees (silver & bronze) from the also-rans.

Nobody is left in any doubt when Usain Bolt or Mo Farrah cross the line. They are simply better than anybody else in the race. The dilemma for Arts prizes in general, and film in particular, is how to answer the question: is it any good? A worthy subject matter shouldn’t matter, nor either the extreme limits of an actors endurance. It is how well the film is made, with particular attention to the audience. Not pandering or patronising and certainly not asking preview audiences which ending they would like best! But using everything in the camera lens to take an audience on that trip from inside that lens. Telling the story to enthral and engage an audience is a story’s only job.

Last year there was a fuss about ‘Diversity’ – a great weasel word.

In the ‘is it, are they, any good?’ depts, the only colour, words, sounds and movement to be taken into account, should be on the screen. The colour on the screen, not the colour of the film makers. Last year’s unopposed furore and po-faced protests felt like the black and gay bus was out to win prizes for just being. Nobody was ignored, just considered as also-rans. That’s the price of being judged. The subject matter doesn’t matter. Is the story any good? Are they telling it well? Does it enthral and engage us all by itself? There are no prizes for simply being. Being is what the rest of us do. Storytellers are there to take us, the audience, out of ourselves, enlighten, move, thrill or touch us. That’s all. And is it any good, is the only measure. Discuss.

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From left: Fences, Captain Fantastic, La La Land, The Eagle Huntress, Jackie, Moonlight, Manchester By The Sea, Nocturnal Animals